Whenever me and my girlfriend are having sex, she’ll ask me to tickle her. I have always obliged and it seems to make her orgasms very strong. But when I try to ask her about it after sex she changes the subject and doesn’t want to talk about it. I think it is weird that she won’t talk to me about it. How can I let her know that I’m fine with tickling her during sex?

Sometimes when we are swept up in the moment, spurred on by hormonal arousal, it can be easier to vocalize what we want. In the post-coital reality, we can feel shy or ashamed by what our sexually-charged self wanted. It’s terrific that you are wanting to engage more with your girlfriend around this desire of hers, but also understand that she may still be working out for herself why she likes it and isn’t sure how to talk about it.

You also may want to consider why it is important for you to know why she likes it. If every time you had sex she asked you to touch her clit, would you ask her later why she likes her clit touched? Probably not, because it is fairly common knowledge that there are many nerve endings in the clitoris and a lot of people like it stimulated during sexual activity. In other words, she asks for it because it feels good and you accept that. Sometimes it is that simple.

Letting a partner know that we want to understand what turns them on, not only indulge them in the moment, can be an act of intimacy. This can be reassuring for some people, but overwhelming for others. Maybe she is avoiding talking about it with you because she is still working out for herself why she likes it. Or maybe she has never thought about it as something out of the ordinary and she isn’t avoiding talking about it; rather she just has nothing to say about it. In any case, respect her boundaries on the topic and don’t try to tell her how she should be engaging with you around it.

My friend told me that she vaginally douches before a date to get ready. I told her that I didn’t think it was healthy to be douching, but she says that it’s part of her routine, like shaving her legs. Who is right?

Vaginally douching is unnecessary and potentially harmful. Vaginas are self-cleaning organs and are filled with beneficial bacteria to keep the pH balanced (a healthy vagina has a slightly acidic pH balance of 3.8 to 4.5). If you wash away the good bacteria with the douche, it can create a window for potentially pathogenic bacteria to flare up and possibly cause an infection, such as bacterial vaginosis. Warm water and mild soap on the vulva is enough to keep that part of the body clean.

It is within a healthy and expected range for vaginas to have a faint odor and some discharge. The odor and consistency of the discharge will change over the course of your menstrual cycle and will also be influenced by your eating habits, hydration, and hygiene. In addition, you’ve got sweat glands in your groin area which can inform the way the area smells too. If the discharge is unusually thick, has an unusual texture (chunky, cottage cheese-like), is gray or green, or has a strong and unusual odor, there may be an infection. Douching could create further irritation or exacerbate an infection. Instead of self-treating with a douche, make an appointment with your doctor or visit a clinic.

But it also sounds like your friend might be using douching as a way to emotionally prepare for a date. It is important to have routines and rituals throughout the day to help us get into the proper headspace for certain activities. Tending to your body before date night is a lovely way to care for yourself and boost your confidence. It can also help get you into a sexy headspace after you’ve been engaging in other aspects of your daily life. Showering, shaving your legs, moisturizing, or spritzing a bit of your favorite scent in your room while you get ready are examples of rituals to prepare for date night.

My advice to your friend is: stop douching and instead find another activity that puts you in date-night mode.

I’m a guy and I’m interested in getting rid of all my pubic hair. I’ve tried shaving it before, but that left me pretty itchy so I’m considering using wax. Are there any things I should consider before applying hot wax to my groin? Do other guys like it smooth?

Sure, a lot of people like to get rid of their body hair. Societal convention mostly tells us that women are hairless and men are hairy, but body hair actually appears on all genders and many people groom it or get rid of it altogether, regardless of gender. All it says about you is that you want to be smooth and hairless on that part of your body.

You’ve got some options when it comes to waxing: a box of pre-waxed strips to use at home ($10 to $20), a home wax melting kit ($20 to $60), or having an esthetician (licensed skin-care professional) do it at a salon ($40 to $100). Because societal conventions inform what is available in the marketplace, it can take a bit of searching to find a salon that is welcoming and prepared to take clients who aren’t cis women. If you go to a salon to get waxing done in the pelvic area, know that it is common practice to remove all the hair, front and back. So if a waxed mons pubis, groin area, and hairless asshole is not what you are going for, tell your esthetician in advance.

Wax that is used for hair removal is actually a mix of resin, plant extracts, and wax. Sometimes cane sugar and honey are used as well. The composition is formulated to grab onto the hair and not irritate the skin too badly. Regular candle wax melts at much higher temperatures (up to 180°F) and can cause burns, so stick to the skin-specific waxes. If you are using an at-home kit, you can usually use a microwave or a wax warmer to melt the wax. The pre-waxed strips just need to be rubbed between your hands to warm them up before use.

To prepare, your hair should be approximately a quarter inch in length. If the hair is too short the wax will have a difficult time grabbing the hair; and if the hair is much longer it may hurt more when you pull the wax off. Don’t use any alcohol or astringent in the area immediately before or after waxing.

After getting waxed, the hair usually will grow back a bit softer. Unlike shaving (which cuts off the hair follicle at the skin and leaves it to poke back up), the wax pulls the hair out at the root so when it comes back it is a new baby hair follicle sprouting up. This means that you won’t be as itchy when the hair starts growing back. To ensure soft pubes and to prevent ingrown hairs, use a light scrub and moisturizing oil in the area about two days after you’ve been waxed. Enjoy your smooth nether regions!

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illustrations Ruth Mascelli